On a warm August morning in 1912, Father O’Connor of the North Cathedral in Cork, Ireland was interrupted by his housekeeper. There was an American to see him. Fr. O’Connor greeted his visitor and it transpired, that like many before him, he was seeking information concerning his Irish roots.

The visitor’s grandfather was supposedly one Patrick Ahern and, searching through the records, Fr.O’Connor discovered Ahern’s baptismal records; he had been born in 1804 in Fair Lane (now Wolfe Tone Street) on Cork City’s northside.

‘And your name was, again, sir?’
‘Ford, Henry Ford.’
‘From…?’
‘Detroit, Michigan.’

Ahern was young Ford’s maternal grandfather. And, on his father’s side, his other grandfather was John Ford of Ballinascarty, a village in West Cork.

Model-T Ford monument, Ballinascarty, Co Cork, Ireland

Model-T Ford monument, Ballinascarty, Co Cork, Ireland

Of course Henry Ford is famous for introducing the mass production of the motor car. In 1917 the first Ford factory outside the US was set up in Cork. Ford named his mansion in Dearborn, Michigan Fairlane and in 1955 his grandson named a new car the Fairlane.

This great story unashamedly lifted from the Holly Bough, the Cork Evening Echo Christmas supplement now in its 115th year.

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